What is site architecture?
Site architecture defines how your website pages are organized and navigated. This architecture is built through navigation and links in your Webflow site, but also relates to other elements such as URLs, breadcrumbs, category pages, sitemaps, and more. Proper site architecture helps users and search engines find what they are looking for. Site architecture also helps define both the relevance and importance (link to Keywords) of your content. It can direct users and bots to your most critical pages, and provide signals as to what your content is about.
Site architecture, when done right, has many positive SEO benefits for your Webflow site:
- Better indexing of pages (especially for large sites)
- Higher rankings & traffic
- Improved user engagement
When you optimize your site architecture the amount of traffic to your website will improve, more visitors will engage, and you’ll see conversions increase.
1. Golden Rule: satisfy user intent
When choosing how to link and organize your Webflow website, there are 3 primary questions to consider:
- What are people looking for?
- What’s important?
- How do the pages relate to one another?
A good site architecture gives visitors what they want and need as clearly and quickly as possible.
2. Flatten your architecture
A “flat” website architecture is one where important pages aren’t too far from the homepage, meaning it takes fewer clicks to navigate.
Many SEO experts refer to the “3-Click Rule” – which means no important page should be more than 3 clicks away from your homepage (or possibly another high authority page.) While this isn’t always true, the basic premise is that users will become frustrated and abandon a site if they can’t find the information they’re looking for quickly and easily. To ensure less frustration and a higher success rate for users; create sites with intuitive, logical hierarchical structures
3. Leverage hub pages
A Hub Page is an important overview page introducing a broad topic or category, which connects to child categories and more specific topics. On your Webflow site, these can be your Home page; as well as your Products or Services page, and your main Blog page.
Hub pages serve several purposes:
- They provide a quick overview of the topic
- Answer top questions users may have
- Link to important sub-topics and top products
- Are typically more user-friendly than common category pages
- Help build your topical authority for a subject
Category pages often make natural hub pages because they often have lots of natural link authority already. You can easily create Category pages and templates within the Webflow CMS.
4. Create content silos
While Hub Pages are great at connecting closely related topics, the real power emerges when you combine hub pages with Content Silos. A content silo is a hierarchical organization of your content by theme. Whereas you can think of hub pages as being at the center of things, you can think of content silos as moving up and down a ladder, where hierarchy is important.
Content silos are typically tightly grouped together by 2-3 things:
- Navigation, including breadcrumbs
- Contextual links
- URL structures
5. Cross-link contextually related pages
So now, you’ve created a site architecture that leverages hub pages and organizes content into silos. The next step is what makes them so much more powerful:
Link closely related pages together. Silos don’t simply need to link up and down, closely related pages can also link across. This tactic happens to be one of the critical steps that led to the traffic increase for site mentioned in the opening of this post. SEOs approach this differently, but it’s common to link closely related pages together when they share the same parent in a silo. This is most effective when the products/posts/categories are closely related to one another.
6. Link high authority to destination pages
Now that you’ve created hubs, silos, and cross-links, there’s another area to consider adding links to—your destination pages.
A destination page is any page on your site that is important for your visitors to visit. This could be:
- A sales page that you want to promote from your homepage
- A high-converting page deep in your silo structure
- Generally, any semi-important page that isn’t well linked
A high authority (link to Analytics) page is any page with lots of link equity that tends to rank well and receive high traffic. Use Google Search Console and Analytics to determine which pages are receiving the most traffic and make sure there each has a prominent Call to Action.
7. Pagination, view all, and infinite scroll pages
For category pages with 100s or 1000s of listings, 3 techniques which can simultaneously help flatten architecture while establishing thematic relationships are:
- View all pages
- Infinite scroll
The simplest and typically most preferred solution is to break up long category listings via pagination. Implemented properly, pagination can help virtually flatten site architecture by signaling to Google that all your entries are part of the same series. The Webflow CMS has a maximum page limit of 100 items displayed before it automatically paginates, but you can set the limit lower depending on your needs. For example; rather than showing all 100 blog posts on a single page, the number of blog posts could be limited at 20 per page, so Webflow would create 5 pages to hold 100 posts. Infinite scroll requires custom code to load more than 100 CMS items on a Webflow page.
8. Smart faceted navigation
Faceted Navigation refers to a navigation that allows users to sort, filter, and narrow results based on many features and criteria. The key to succeeding with faceted navigation is this: encourage search engines to crawl + index your unique, traffic-driving pages, while simultaneously discouraging them from crawling + indexing low-value URLs. The Webflow CMS has native sorting and filtering options built in, and custom code can be added to further extend and scale this functionality.
9. Leverage HTML sitemaps
Almost everyone understands the importance of XML sitemaps these days. But HTML sitemaps built into web pages are becoming rarer. Let’s bring them back! An HTML sitemap lives live on your site (not in an XML file), is readable by humans, and can provide both humans and search robots clues about your website structure and topical relationships. Webflow can be set to automatically generate an XML sitemap, but a large site can benefit by providing a page dedicated to displaying all the pages included in the site as an index of links to those pages. Alternatively a custom sitemap can be created.
10. Link new content prominently
News sites and blog feeds are great at linking to new content prominently. More static websites, and eCommerce sites with lots of products, often struggle. Linking more “prominently” doesn’t always mean adding links to your homepage – which may not be the best place from a user experience point of view. Featured sidebars, news pages, and blog feeds are great at linking to new content prominently.
11. Link from new articles to old
This is one of the oldest tricks in the SEO playbook, and it’s amazing how effective this works. Every time you publish a new piece of content, try to link to several articles of your older content, whenever it’s relevant and helpful. Linking to older content from new content as part of your architecture benefits your site in many ways:
- Automatically builds and helps strengthen your Content Hubs.
- Builds topical relationships between new and established pages
- Gives a freshness + authority boost to older pages
12. Provide navigational breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs can play an important part of site architecture by:
- Defining a URL’s relative position in a given silo/hierarchy
- Linking up and down within that hierarchy, and
- Providing a helpful navigation aid to visitors.
13. Reduce link bloat
So far, we’ve covered multiple methods to increase linking to important pages. Now it’s time to talk about limiting your links to reduce link bloat. Why can removing unnecessary links produce positive benefits?
First, consider that each page posses a set amount of link authority (PageRank) to distribute through all of its outbound links. The more links on the page, the less authority for each link. A page with only 10 outgoing links theoretically passes more value through each of those links than the same page with 100 links to share the same authority.
14. Hierarchical URL structures
When organizing site content, it’s often best practice to use URLs that reflect the structure of the content. Webflow automatically generates URL slugs from the page title whenever you add a CMS item, but it’s important to create titles that utilize keywords relevant to your brand and the content.
An example would be if you sold rugs in your furniture department, your URL might look like: https://example.com/furniture/rugs
The advantages of this system are:
- Users can clearly understand what the URL is about
- Keywords in the URL can help with rankings and click-through rates (CTR)
- Google has been known to use directory level metrics to temporarily judge the importance + relevance of newly discovered URLs
15. Use the right anchor text
Many people don’t think of anchor text as part of your site architecture, but it absolutely is. When you link to a page as part of your navigation, the anchor text you choose becomes extremely important as that navigation is used throughout your site. This is the anchor text that Google uses to assign relevance to your content, and the anchor text that informs users to click. The general advice is to be as descriptive + specific as possible in your navigational anchor text. Webflow will remind you if your links aren’t descriptive as part of its automatic accessibility audit.
Now you're ready to make it happen!
After looking through the 15 ways to optimize your Webflow site architecture, you should be able to access the health of your Webflow website and take the necessary steps to optimize it. If this all seems too technical, or you just don't have the time to do it yourself, we are happy to help. Get started today by filling out our contact form!